Brief history of St. Patrick’s Day


Madison McNamara, Times Staff

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Dawn your green, St. Patrick’s Day has arrived! Set on the 17th of March every year, the holiday is widely celebrated throughout the world. The saint himself, Patrick, died March 17th 461, which is why people celebrate on this day. St. Patrick’s Day was officially made a holiday in 1631, it started as a religious feast day and grew into something much bigger.

Patrick was born in Britain under the name Maewyn Succat and was later forcefully taken to Ireland where he was sold into slavery. During his captivity he discovered Christianity and began studying the religion. When the chance arrived, he escaped and fled back to his home country where he studied in the monastery for 12 years. He was eventually appointed bishop and returned to Ireland to establish Churches, monastery’s and schools.

He didn’t become a saint until a few years after his death. A popular rumor is that he drove all the snakes out of Ireland, though there are no fossil records of there ever being snakes at all. A lot of people believe the word “snakes” was used as a euphemism for Pagans.

The shamrock has been a symbol of Ireland for decades, but many people don’t know the reason behind this. The little green clover became a popular representation of the Irish because the saint is said to have used it as a

metaphor for the Holy Trinity, the Father the Son and Holy Spirit.

The first recorded St Patrick’s Day wasn’t even in Ireland according to on March 3rd 2010, but in New York City 1762. The original color of Ireland was blue but, according to Huffington post, it changed to green because of Ireland’s nickname “the emerald island”.

Another popular trend that St Patrick’s Day is known for is, of course, the pinch given out to anyone that is not wearing green. There are multiple reasons for getting pinched if you don’t wear green, here are a couple of them. Way back when people truly believed in leprechauns the color green would make you invisible to their eyes. So, if you happened to get pinched, it was someone reminding you to protect yourself from those tricky little guys by sporting some green! The second one is simply a reminder to show some Irish pride on St Patty’s Day and throw on some green. If you don’t you might get pinched!

There are parades held all over the world in many different countries to celebrate St Pat- rick’s Day.

If you’re interested in learning more about St. Patrick’s Day here are some suggestions from Diane Wood, a history professor here on campus:

The Wearing of the Green: A History of St. Patrick’s Day, by Daryl Adair and Mike Cronin.

The Love of the Irish: Why We Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, by Jaimie Hope.